Coleman anticipating first start

Third-year sophomore set to replace injured senior Matt Lawrence

The setting for Marcus Coleman's first career start will be unforgettable: the final home game of Barry Alvarez's 16-season tenure as the University of Wisconsin's head coach. Senior day at Camp Randall. A key conference matchup with Iowa, likely with a Jan. 2 bowl berth on the line.

"It's such a great opportunity to go out there," Coleman said. "… The seniors count on everybody on senior day. So it adds a little bit more there… I just want to go out there and just give it my all."

With senior Matt Lawrence recovering from an ankle injury, Coleman, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound third-year sophomore, will fill in at left guard Saturday. A versatile reserve, Coleman has played every position on the line in practice during his career. This season, he has been spent the vast majority of his practice reps at center, setting the stage for what will likely be his permanent starting position in 2006 and '07.

Coleman's game-day role this season has been as a tight end in the Badgers jumbo goal-line package.

"I think it's helped me a lot just because now I don't think there's as much pressure as there would be," Coleman said. "Every time I'm in the game on jumbo it's a pressure situation. You are on the goal line trying to hit it in and score. So as far as the pressure thing goes I should be all right. First series, just get all that stuff out. I think it should be fine as far as the pressure goes."

While concentrating on center, Coleman has received a smattering of reps at guard, but mostly on the right side.

"I played left during camp a little bit," he said. "I've been (a left tight end) on the goal line, so as far as getting in a left-handed stance it really shouldn't bother me. I think I'll be ready…

"It's not too bad of an adjustment. Obviously everything is reversed from the right side but it's just something, you know, I'm used to it by now."

Coleman received a crash course last Saturday at Penn State, when Lawrence aggravated a previous ankle injury during the fourth quarter and was forced to leave the game.

The Wayzata, Minn. native has known all season that he would be the first player off the bench if Lawrence, center Donovan Raiola or right guard Jason Palermo went down with an injury. But he was not expecting in to happen last week.

Coleman's first extended action came against the Big Ten's best defensive line.

"I thought I held up pretty well," he said. "I made a few mistakes here and there. But for the most part I was pretty happy with myself. But I know I still need to get a lot better, play a lot better this week."

Coleman said he feels bad for Lawrence but that he is excited to have the opportunity to start. This will be the first time all season the Badgers have had to replace an offensive lineman in the starting lineup.

"I really am looking forward to it," Coleman said. "It's a big opportunity for me. I know a lot of guys are counting on me. It's a big week for me. I've just got to step up and just come to the challenge."

He will have plenty of supporters in the capacity Camp Randall crowd. Coleman always has family at UW's home games; this Saturday, about 10 friends from Wayzata High School will be in the crowd. They planned on attending the game long before Coleman knew he would start.

"The way it worked out I'm going to have a lot of supporters here," Coleman said.


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